FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Bermuda Sandbox and Seabased Wave Technology comes to Tonga
Small islands waving goodbye to fossil fuels with Seabased Group Wave Power Parks
17 March 2023, United Nations Headquarters, New York, U.S.A.: His Lordship Albert Vaea, Minister of Internal Affairs for His Majesty’s Government of the Kingdom of Tonga, announced that Tonga signed an agreement with the Ireland-based Seabased Group, for the development and deployment of the first pilot commercial-scale two-megawatt (2 MW) Wave Power Park in the Pacific. Lord Vaea made this announcement in New York City, on 14 March 2023, at an event hosted by the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Tonga to the United Nations (UN).
“The Tongatapu Seabased Wave Power Park can be ready for commissioning within 24 months, with a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and at no cost to the Government,” Lord Vaea said, further noting that the project will eventually see Tonga deploy up to 10 MW, meeting more than fifty percent (50%) of Tonga’s electricity needs, cutting Tonga’s carbon emissions by twenty percent (20%), providing clean and affordable baseload power, 24/7, from the waves off the coast of the main island, Tongatapu. Amazingly, using Seabased Group’s “Blue Wave Power” innovative technology, a 40 MW Wave Park could meet two hundred percent (200%) of Tonga’s electricity needs.
During his opening remarks, Lord Vaea told the audience, which included the Honourable Mr. Walter Roban JP, MP, Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs, Government of Bermuda, Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives and other representatives from SIDS Permanent Missions to the UN, representatives from Seabased Group and other guests present, that Seabased has provided “the evidence of a technology that can capture the energy generated from the waves coming to the shores of the SIDS, and turning that energy into electricity for their populations at a lower cost, while also helping to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and significantly helping them achieve and even surpass their ambitious targets in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) reports.”
Further, several SIDS are impressed by the lead from the Government of Bermuda, which signed an agreement with Seabased Group on the heels of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP 26) climate talks in 2021, for the development of what promises to be the world’s first utility-scale commercial ocean wave power park. With a 40 MW capacity, the Seabased Bermuda Wave Power Park will feed the island’s grid, providing roughly ten percent (10%) of Bermuda’s energy needs. To facilitate this move, Minister Roban, in his remarks to the audience, said that “in 2022, the Government of Bermuda passed legislation, referred to as the “Sandbox”, an amendment to the Electricity Act. This particular amendment, he said, “laid the groundwork for a Center of Excellence in Innovation, so that companies like Seabased can come to Bermuda and test the new technologies that are necessary for the world and our islands to win the battle around climate change and to show that we have independent clean energy futures. We islands must be the places for innovation, we must be the places for opportunity, we must be the ones who sets the pace for what the world must do in the conversion to renewable energy.”
An important lesson for SIDS is that Bermuda created the Regulatory Sandbox for this purpose, none of the projects in the Sandbox are currently in Bermuda’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The Minister said these innovative projects, like the Seabased Wave Park in Bermuda, were developed outside the IRP, and to be synced around this, these technologies will be developed outside the traditional regulatory framework and the Sandbox creates an additional framework which allows innovation to be tested which minimizes risk on the grid and, to hopefully see a project that becomes commercially viable. “Islands are risk averse due to their isolation, and risk is important to mitigate, as SIDS aren’t large countries with several test areas, and if and when an island conducts a test on the grid and risk appears, that risk cannot be mitigated as easily as in a large country,” he noted. He said we have to find a way to chart our future around innovation, and this, he said, was why the Sandbox was created.
Also speaking at the event was Mr. Laurent Albert, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Seabased Group, who reiterated that the Seabased wave technology is proven and that “it took about 20 years, 20 PhDs, and 12 generations of generators to come up with this system, and the design was not about producing energy, it was about producing energy to be distributed,” a major unmet need in SIDS. Not only is the Seabased wave technology a proven innovative system, but it also has major environmental benefits; it stands on the seafloor, causing no damage as there is no piling or drilling with no disturbance to the environment; it has an innovative base that was specifically designed for marine life to safely shelter and breed - a key factor for the SIDS fisheries industry; it is invisible, except for a small buoy on the surface, located approximately fifteen kilometers or nine miles (15 km/9 mi) from shore – and invisible from the shore.
SIDS are moving urgently to develop their ocean energy resources and in doing this, are literally waving goodbye to expensive oil imports and are seeking paths that are fossil fuel free, a path that is inevitable, and as His Lordship noted at the end of his remarks, “Seabased Group’s wave technology has checked all the right resilience boxes for SIDS,” as Tonga, he said, “is like all SIDS, we are all faced with some of the highest energy costs in the world, and it is our women, children and other vulnerable groups in our populations that are being affected by the impacts – including high fuel, food, water, medicinal, transportation and other costs, which none of our Governments have control over. However, with the introduction of the deployment of renewable energy technologies, in this case the Seabased Group technology that powers the Wave Power Parks, we have a chance to bring some meaningful and visible measure of relief to our people,” he noted. Lord Vaea encouraged the SIDS who have been presented with the potential for Seabased Wave Power Parks, and those countries that have been assessed with wave energy resources to join the SIDS Wave Power Programme under the Global Ocean Energy Alliance (GLOEA), being executed by the SIDS DOCK Secretariat and its global partners.
SIDS DOCK is a United Nations (UN)-recognised international organisation established in 2015, with all the rights and privileges for addressing climate change, resilience, and energy security in small islands. SIDS DOCK represents 32 small islands and low-lying developing states across the globe, and is so named because it is designed as a “DOCKing station,” to connect the energy sector in SIDS with the global markets for finance and sustainable energy technologies. The organisation’s work is coordinated by the Secretariat, in Belmopan, Belize.
Christine Neves Duncan
Chief of Staff & Project Director
SIDS DOCK Secretariat
Vice President Business Development